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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : features : get involved November 24, 2015

2/17/2008 7:09:00 PM
Towing experiences range from joy to tragedy
The Daily Courier/Les Stukenberg

Toby Jenkins of American Towing hooks up a 1978 Southwind RV after it broke down at Mile Marker 9 of Iron Springs Road between Prescott and Skull Valley.
The Daily Courier/Les Stukenberg
Toby Jenkins of American Towing hooks up a 1978 Southwind RV after it broke down at Mile Marker 9 of Iron Springs Road between Prescott and Skull Valley.

The experiences of a tow truck driver range from the simple joy of participating as a "rescue" vehicle to the extreme tragedy of death.

"Each day is a new day, and we work together to take care of the customer," commented Toby Jenkins, owner/operator of American Towing in Prescott. "It is a fun business and you are always meeting new people."

However, a towing company also has a sad side. "I-17 is dangerous," Jenkins said. "Just being along the roadway can get someone hit and killed. Even using rotators, flashers and reflective vests doesn't always prevent being sideswiped. People are going 80 mph and that is hazardous to us if we're on the highway side of the road changing a tire."

Jenkins said the towing business is competitive and expensive for fuel and truck maintenance. The average hook up with AAA insurance is about $45 and $3.50 a mile. "The charges depend on the vehicle and the insurance," he said.

Jeff Hopper, operations manager for Tri City Towing in Chino Valley, has seen quite a few unusual towing incidents, including a Sears truck that rolled down a hill and went through a house. "People always seem to have an excuse," he said. "I get on the scene and wonder what were they thinking? People are not paying attention and not aware of their surroundings. Each one is so different - it's a lot of fun and a challenge."

Hopper is in charge of truck maintenance for 10 trucks, repairs, personnel, drivers and basic day-to-day operations.

However, his priority is representing his company in the DARE program and talking to kids. "Recoveries and accidents are especially sad for me," he said, "and I want to make kids aware of how dangerous a vehicle can be."

"It takes a certain type of person to do this job," Hopper added. "The hours are grueling and you have to have the ability to think on the spot."

"We get all kinds of calls, but the three biggest reasons are accidents, breakdowns and tow-aways from parking in the wrong spot," explained Ron Williams, owner of Nastow Towing & Recovery in Prescott.

Williams has not noticed a decline in DUI accidents despite tougher laws. "I see a large number of accidents involving alcohol and drugs," he said. "And with that, there is a 30-day hold on that person's car."

Private tow-aways are another downer. "People are not real thrilled to see us when we show up to repossess their car," he said. "We've gotten threats of bodily harm."

He has seen some very bad accidents in his time and some strange incidents as well. "I once towed a dead man and his car and did not know he was in there and dead," Williams said. "He had heavily tinted windows. We've had rescues in the mountains and desert - people go to some really foolish places."

Williams also gets calls from the fire departments when there is a forest fire to help move in heavy-duty equipment.

Cost for towing depends on the particular job. "The bigger the vehicle, the longer the distance, the more it costs," Williams said. "A lot of the work we do is covered by insurance. Most cars involved in accidents have insurance.

Business is good and steadily growing, he said. Williams attributes that to selecting good employees and following good business practices. "I enjoy the challenge of the business," he added. "It keeps me going."

Contact the reporter at

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, March 15, 2008
Article comment by: bclements_06

I have had to be towed after an accident, Tri-City towing has to be the most professional tow company in the area. They really cared about how I was. Very professiional!

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Article comment by: ltatum87

I have had very good experiences using tnt towing and custom towing. but they were prob too busy to interview. i always see there trucks around town.

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Article comment by: dsdrag

Nice article, too bad you only talked with newbies. Why didnt you talk to the guys in town that have experience. The gentlemen that own Rapid towing, and Deans Accurate Towing each have well over 20 years of experience hooking. The gentlemen you interviewed all have 5 years or less time in this field.

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